Friday, February 26, 2010

Juggle Breath

Great white teeth tore into dark seal flesh. Flash of anguish, spray of blood, watery silence.

"Ha! Look at 'em!" Gus yelled. "No mercy! Right to the throat! I like these fish!"

Gus had the deluxe satellite package. He hired local kids to keep his roof dish clean and open to signals. Yet despite the numerous channels on offer, Gus kept his TV tuned to Channel 58. Always.

If someone watched another channel, then changed it back, Gus could tell. "Keep your goddamn mitts off my remote!" he'd rant. "I'm a Channel 58 man!"

Channel 58 gave Gus all the entertainment he desired. Animal carnage. Trucks on glaciers. Alien abductions. Bounty hunters. Ghost chasers. Exploding appliances. But what most thrilled Gus were the food porn pig outs. Two shows featuring husky men, one who ate a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, the other shoveling mounds of meat and fat down his throat while being cheered on and timed, sent Gus into hysterics.

"Hoo, those fat fucks can eat! Imagine what their shit looks like!"

Gus was happy. But when he switched to an HD flat screen, Gus found religion.

Channel 58's images boasted Wonderland precision, a bright alternate reality encased in black plastic. Even the ads seemed created by God. Gus sat mesmerized. He muttered non sequiturs. He began to miss meals. He put off going to the bathroom. Friends and family tried to rouse him, but Gus would nod them off, his unshaven face and unwashed body crusty and rank.

Now, you're probably expecting Gus to die or lose his mind or some other HD-related atrocity. But he didn't. One day Gus simply rose from his stupor, shaved, took a dump then a shower, cleaned his house and fixed a filling meal. Sitting down to relax and digest, Gus clicked on his TV and went to Channel 59. Macaws screeched while suburbanites bragged about their real estate profits.

Gus smiled and said nothing. This new life held promise.

Sonia loved rabbit meat and Jesus. Her thin blonde frame seemed brittle, but was solid. He felt that the first time they fucked. Sonia nearly broke his dick as she pounded him on top. Her large brown eyes burned into his. She mingled prayers with sex talk, craving salvation and multiple orgasms. The acid she put in his wine left him helpless. Sonia's features fluctuated as she thrust her claws to the ceiling. The rabbits wrestled in their cages; her Boston Terrier snorted and panted its approval. Candle flames rose, the flamenco guitar music accelerated. Sonia was both conductor and priestess, her flickering shadow reaching through time.

That's when he decided, no more personal ads.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Haig Beats Hague

Another Reagan-era terrorist has died. Alexander Haig, whose "White Paper" on El Salvador was an attempt to pave the way for direct US intervention in Central America, is gone, his legacy one of loyal service to our imperial state. Happily, the American public, with Vietnam very fresh in memory, largely opposed Haig's plans as a solidarity/sanctuary movement grew in response to his saber-rattling. Unhappily, the Reagan gang conducted a proxy war instead, slaughtering hundreds of thousands throughout the region.

Unlike the Saddams, Milosevics and Pol Pots, our war criminals never receive the same opprobrium and punishment. They usually live long, comfortable lives, are celebrated as honorable statesmen and women who nobly served the nation's interests. Alexander Haig reminds us that imperial double standards remain very much in place, something that Bush, Cheney, and Obama are doubtless happy to know.

Although satirist Mort Sahl found Haig sane enough to support in the 1988 presidential sweepstakes, other comics took a dimmer view. Here Larry David and Melanie Chartoff dissect Haig's bizarre press conference after Reagan was shot by John Hinckley. From Fridays, April 3, 1981.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blowing One's Stack

Joseph Stack was angry. We all get angry, sometimes intensely so, but Joseph Stack was truly fucking pissed. He talked to himself, mumbled "idiot" and "moron" countless times a day, randomly slapped his head, grimaced as if he were chewing glass. He was not a fun date and did not like to dance. He drank pickle brine from the jar. Joseph Stack had issues.

We now know how Joseph Stack silenced the noise in his brain. Not a terribly original idea, but one that still resonates with most Americans. Targeting the IRS also resonates with most Americans, though in a more popular way. But the IRS wasn't the only object of Joseph Stack's ire. He emailed various hit lists to professional peers and distant relatives, a few of which have surfaced. After reading them, one is left wondering, "Does satellite really have better HD than cable?"

McDonald's. Joseph Stack hated clowns and fast food, and thought corporate-financed obesity was the first step toward mainstream cannibalism. "Okay, Mr. Mayor McCheese Man, let's order something different; fry my Quarter Pounder of flesh, garnish my wages with lettuce and ketchup, and eat well."

The Post Office. Standing in line irked Joseph Stack. He also resented being asked if a package contained firearms or hazardous materials. "The definition of insanity is asking the same question over and over and expecting the answer to suddenly be different. I don't send biohazard by mail, but when I do, you'll be the first to know, Mr. Stamp Seller Man."

Playgrounds. Slides and swings drove Joseph Stack to the limit, gleeful laughter over it. "The cruel joke is that the really big kids at the top of the jungle gym have been laughing at fools like me all along. Well, Mr. Having Fun Man, let's play something different; ride my white elephant conundrum into a government building full of hypocrites and see where that gets you."

People In Public Talking On Their Bluetooth. Joseph Stack despised those who look like they're talking to themselves, but are actually taking a call. He felt this was another betrayal of one's personal voice. "It has always been a myth that people have stopped muttering for their freedom in this country, and it isn't limited to those with expense accounts. I choose not to pretend that I'm in my own world. Hey Mr. Yappy Earpiece Man, let's phone someone different; someone overseas during the day, when rates are at their self-serving highest."

Sleeping Zombies. Joseph Stack believed he was the last human on earth, surrounded by the snoring undead. "I can only hope that the American zombies wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are: zombies with government jobs. Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer, like in the movies. So, Mr. Snoozy Flesh Eater Man, let's murder something different. Any suggestions?"

When the truth is found to be lies,
And all the joy within you dies.
Don't you want somebody to kill?
Don't you need somebody to kill?
Wouldn't you love somebody to kill?
You better find somebody to kill.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Surge For Tomorrow

Denying reports of defeat, Taliban guerrillas demonstrate their "play dead" strategy, hoping to lull NATO into a false sense of firepower superiority.

Meanwhile, NATO forces continue to face fierce rubble-to-rubble fighting.

In the hearts-and-minds department, Afghan conscripts are promised that in exchange for their loyalty, the US will give them a commemorative plate that they can pass on to surviving relatives.

Spearheading NATO's anti-hunger efforts, Sergeant Pete Mesmer distributes Tic Tacs to grateful Afghan children.

When not feeding the poor, NATO helps protect civilians against flying shrapnel by distributing portable bomb shelters.

Democracy is another gift given to Afghans. Here first-time voters try to decide which corrupt candidates will win their useless votes.

Specialist Jim Breston thinks maybe that loading dock job at Wal-Mart wasn't so bad after all.

Afghan performance artists are struggling as well. "Satire has become reality," observed Jaabir Sahar, whose parody of the opium trade closed opening night.

Feeling his hold over supporters slipping, President Obama pretended to have psychic powers, luring back wavering white liberals.

But in the end, it was Private Kyle Dent who offered a real sign of hope.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Le Retour, Motherfuckers

When I told Roseanne Barr that I was going back on stage, she said, "Are you gonna tell fart jokes and talk about your wiener? You better, or else nobody's gonna laugh or know what the hell you're talking about." Like me, Roseanne disdains what mainstream stand up's become. Judd Apatow dramatized this in Funny People, where older comic Adam Sandler gives protégé Seth Rogen lessons in effective coarseness. So conceptually I was ready for the bottom line.

Once in the club, however, the collective crude aggression overwhelmed me for a moment. As regulars know, I have no problem with lowbrow or crass material, so long as it fits or accentuates the overall piece. But last night I weathered a torrent of raw vulgar jokes and one-liners, aimed to push obvious audience buttons. Some of it was funny, a clever line occasionally popping up. But that's just the law of averages. Overall, it was dick prick pussy cunt cocksucker motherfucker blowjob handjob gay fag fare.

To be fair, these comics were young and largely unpolished, their energy bridging the silence when a bit flopped. I was easily 20-plus years older than most of them, pushing 30 with a few more. When I walked in and sat at the comics' table, waiting to hear the line up, they glared at me with that competitive comedy expression I hadn't seen in some time. But it came roaring back in an instant. They all knew each other, busting balls and mocking looks, and here was some strange old man, wanting in on the mix.

My life experience served me well. As a younger comic, I too was aggressive and arrogant, icing out anyone I didn't think worth my time. Now I was all smiles, initiating chats with the comics next to me. A couple wanted to know if this was my first time performing stand up. "God no," I replied. "I've done tons of stand up. But it's been a long time. I wanna knock off some rust and move in a different direction."

"Where did you play?" asked the Black comic sitting across from me.

"Around. Here and there. You know." I didn't want to get too explicit about my past or my plans.


"No. I haven't played Detroit."

The young woman next to me chimed in. "Then where?"

Now I had four comics staring at me, waiting for an answer.

"New York, LA, a little in Chicago."

"New York?!" said the kid across from me, sitting up. "You played New York?"

"Yeah. It was ages ago. Some of those clubs don't exist anymore."

They all looked puzzled, but didn't press me. A tall white guy confessed, "This is my first time. I'm really nervous."

"That's perfectly natural," I told him.

"What if I tank?"

"Hey man, it's only comedy. You're on stage, not the audience. You're in control. You're just sharing concepts. Play around with it."

He relaxed a little, until his name was called. He then stiffened, trudged to the stage and plowed through his set. He got a few laughs, but his nervousness showed. Once the audience sees that, you're fucked. He came off, sat and shook his head. He left soon after.

It can only get better, son. Theoretically.

By the time my name was called, the audience grew to roughly thirty people. Not bad for a Wednesday night, especially after a blizzard. I liked the intimacy of it. Problem was, so many quickly-told dick jokes preceded me, establishing a ragged energy that I think the audience expected, and for the most part welcomed. My little set was nothing like that. I was a tad anxious as the emcee introduced me, but once I hit the stage, felt the lights, adjusted the mike stand, said hello to the crowd, I was back in the moment, a sensation I hadn't experienced in 25 years. Right then I knew that coming back was the correct decision.

As for my set, well, it clearly wasn't what the audience anticipated. My energy was slower, subtler, a shift that forced the room to adjust. Some of them did, many others didn't. But they didn't heckle or comment. I had their full attention. I also had complete confidence in my material, which not only was scripted, but much different from the other comics.

I kept it brief. I wanted merely to break the ice, get my stage footing back. Nothing more. My bit about being horrified that my teen son is straight got laughs in the right places, but it was hesitant laughter, either because they weren't sure if it was funny, or that it took an extra beat for the lines to sink in. I wasn't slapping their faces with my dick, and this meant they had to focus on the premise. I was also rusty in places, and could have stretched the bit with more animated takes. I may have been too low key. Something to work on and polish. That's what these local sets are all about.

I closed with my Sarah Palin love rant, which perked up the audience as my energy increased. When I'm in character, everything melts away and I ride that inner rhythm. This received the right laughs as well, though a few patrons were put off by my wanting to fuck Palin inside a dying moose. I ended my set and returned to the table.

The young woman said she loved the material, then went up and talked about the perils of dating. The rest of the comics looked at me from a distance. I couldn't fully read their expressions, but they seemed confused and wary. I was not one of them. I didn't bomb, knew my shit, was secure in my skin -- well, as secure as you can be in a comedy club. My experience showed, however rough in spots. I smiled back at them and nodded. They sipped their drinks and looked at each other.

I'm quite pleased with last night's performance. I watched the tape a few times (which I'm not going to upload, as the quality is dodgy, my features obliterated by stage lights, but soon, my loves, soon), made notes for next week, when I plan to test more new material, sans the I-wanna-nail-Palin routine. Our next president is funny, but a little of her goes a long fucking way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grok The Mike

Busy rehearsing my groovetatious, fabnastic, hunka hunka burnin' return to the stand up stage. It's been a while, loves, but it feels oooohhh so right. Assuming the snow hasn't canceled my brief set for tonight, I'll absorb your positive energy, channel it on stage and speak of the experience this time tomorrow. Until then, here's Larry David's return to stand up, doing some of the material that got him the Fridays gig. Peach out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Token Release

"Keep your heads down."

Thus spake NATO. Afghan civilians in the southern town of Marjah have been duly warned. So if they get their heads blown off by NATO firepower, it's their problem, not ours.

The Israeli state is fond of this approach. Let the locals know that the sky will burn, the ground will shake, and should they still be around once the missiles fly, well, what more can one do? It's what separates us from the terrorists, a humanitarian duck-and-cover. Of course, this only applies to us. As I've said before, had the 9/11 hijackers warned World Trade Center workers in advance that the buildings were coming down, it's doubtful that stateside politicos and commentators would applaud Al-Qaeda's concern for civilian casualties. Still, had Al-Qaeda thought more tactically, they could've responded, "Hey, we're just following the Israeli example." Free World terrorists better understand the value of effective PR.

Cest la guerre. Obama's committed to the mass grave option for the foreseeable future, with little dissent or counterpush from liberals and self-described progressives. I did receive an online petition from Rethink Afghanistan, a group that seems opposed to expanded war, though strictly from a domestic angle, since numerous Americans aren't interested in how continual bombing affects those on the business end. But even this meek approach can't shake pro-Obama feelings among the faithful. "Staunching the flow of American blood and treasure into the Afghanistan war will be essential to the success of the Obama presidency and to getting our economy back on track."

Yes. The real tragedy of this imperial war is how it keeps the Obama administration from succeeding, which clearly is the main priority among liberal patriots. If we can stem American blood and treasure from going into Afghanistan, then President Change will be free to construct the New Tomorrow that so many Dems and libs believe is Obama's "real" purpose.

This is your antiwar movement, model 2010. Keep your heads down.

John Murtha's passing has challenged liberals to find something nice to say about this consummate Beltway insider. The few libloggers I've read shed some brief tears before quickly moving on, not wanting to be dragged into Murtha's corrupt, reactionary past. The safe approach was to honor Murtha's turn against the Iraq war, which was merely a tactical political shift, since Murtha voted for the invasion in the first place. But because Murtha butted heads with evil Dick Cheney instead of turning on the system that enriched him while it slaughtered countless others, liberals tossed confetti Murtha's way. In other words, personality trumped honesty. A sad, sick display. And they say I'm cynical?

But the rancid cake was taken by The Nation's John Nichols. Clearing his throat a bit before labeling Murtha's "dissent" as "meaningful," Nichols strains to paint the deceased in noble colors. An inspired if tragically flawed effort. Again, Murtha's scuffle with Cheney is highlighted, the chickenhawk charge against Cheney dusted off and played anew. But some of Nichols' history is, to be charitable, a whitewash:

"Murtha, a retired Marine colonel who earned a chest full of medals during the Vietnam fight and who has often broken with fellow Democrats to back U.S. military interventions abroad -- most notably in Latin America, where Murtha often supported former President Ronald Reagan's controversial policies regarding El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s -- gave that assistance."

Murtha's anti-chickenhawk rep, which liberals revere, came at the expense of the Vietnamese, millions dead, massive parts of the country destroyed. Nichols airbrushes this as a "fight." Next, Reagan's wars in Central America are called "controversial." A few hundred thousand massacred with key support from both Repubs and Dems might warrant stronger language from a writer in a left-liberal publication. Reagan's mass murder was only "controversial" to those beholden to the system stateside. Would Nichols' have described Saddam's butchery in Iran or Milosevic's violence in the Balkans "controversial"? Maybe, if it softened the image of those with "D" after their names.

Nichols winds down his embalming dance with this gem:

"Murtha's call for bringing the troops home and the ensuing tussle with Cheney was a critical turning point in the debate about the war. Even more so, it was a critical turning point in the struggle to expose the George Bush and Dick Cheney for what they were: crude and frequently ignorant ideologues who cared more about pursuing their own agendas than about doing right by America or its soldiers."

It was the corrupt John Murtha who exposed the Bush/Cheney gang for who they really were? M'kay. I wish I could call this conclusion "controversial," but Nichols has redefined the word. Let's settle for bullshit instead.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

I'll be live Twittering the Super Bowl on Sunday, ads and all. More a device to stay semi-sober than anything else. Join the fun and special surprises a bit before kick off! Or go read a book. As if I fucking care.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Top Of The Head Not In Shot Show

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Love You To Death

Brit bad girl scribe Julie Burchill, back in her heyday, slammed "We Are The World" as typical American narcissism, a faux plea for "a better day." It also set the tone for subsequent all star gatherings for charities du jour, where publicists battle to get their clients seen going to and from the studio, in which some maudlin sing-along is cranked out for the dead and dying. It's a feel good moment for celebs and their sucker fish, a "humanitarian" gold star on the resume. Meantime, nothing significant changes. The same power relationships resulting in more death, starvation and disease. Yawn.

Haiti's blood has nourished American narcissism, but hasn't been creatively stimulating. I suppose it's yet another sign of this dull ugly era where derivative junk is tossed to the throng, and few seem to know the difference, or more likely just don't care. I mean, another "We Are The World"? How fucking lazy is our "artistic" class? And I'm sure devastated Haitians will appreciate the effort shown by The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Nicole Richie and . . . Vince Vaughn? Did I read that right? Wow. At least Dan Aykroyd, who sang on the original song, was a Blues Brother. Maybe Vaughn is prepping for a new project, Earthquake Crashers, where he and Owen Wilson exploit natural disasters in poor countries to nail native poon, but in the end learn a bit about themselves as well. "We Fuck The World" plays over the closing credits. Vaughn and Wilson tag-team the mike as poor but buxom women claw at their crotches. Old Glory unfurls during the guitar solo while cargo planes drop crates of Hungry Man frozen dinners to the grateful peasants.

Well, in the Director's Cut anyway.

Next: Wii Are The World -- gamers kill video thousands to save real world dozens. Playing Is Caring.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Revolution Nein

The Baader-Meinhof Complex inspired a terror double-feature over the weekend: The Weather Underground followed by Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst. Fueled by absinthe and Raisinets, I marveled at how tactically stupid these domestic commandoes were. I'm sure there was a certain thrill to playing outlaw, at least until your comrades blew themselves up or were burned to death under a hail of automatic SWAT fire. Then it probably ceased being fun.

The conceit that a small band of armed ideologues could take on, much less defeat, the imperial state borders on insane, but there's plenty of delirium across the land, militant fantasies now largely in reactionary skulls. Still, these films took me back to when denunciations of imperialism, capitalism, and racism were highlighted on the news, read by stern anchors seemingly confused by these crazy kids and their Che fixations. Lefty terrorists were part of the landscape. Paddy Chayefsky parodied this nicely in Network, showing that even the most dedicated anti-capitalist can fret about profit points and ratings books. Show biz as the great leveler.

Weather, and to a lesser degree the Symbionese Liberation Army, were boons to the domestic police apparatus, providing a handy pretext for the development and refinement of surveillance, interrogation, high-powered weapons and political control. Right wingers did their part during the Clinton years, as did environmental and vegan militants. But none have matched the 9/11 terrorists, who handed the American police state a sumptuous platter on which it continues to gorge.

There are those who maintain that Islamic militants seek to destroy the US government, and therefore we must smite them before they snuff us. Whatever their actual desires, these groups and cells are the American state's best friends and enablers; without them, the FBI would have to pump up some black-hooded animal rights army as The Latest Threat. White kids who eschew dairy products can terrify only so much. But Arabs, Persians and Pashtuns wearing beards and waving rifles -- now that's more like it. Bomb their relatives, torture their friends, occupy or threaten their countries and you've got a long-running narrative with no shortage of boogeymen and those devoted to their capture or destruction.

In a sense, the jihadists we armed and supported against the Soviets in Afghanistan have never stopped working with us. Back then, Carter and Reagan used Afghanistan as a prime reason to remilitarize the culture, from draft registration to proxy terrorism to festishizing the armed forces, casting them in a holy light. The Muslims who threw acid in women's faces, attacked co-ed schools, and razed any vestige of secularism were appreciated and applauded by numerous American reactionaries, from Reagan on down to clowns like David Horowitz, who has defended his pro-jihadist phase while claiming to oppose the children of his old pals. Hey, you gotta stay loose to keep pace with the imperial game.

(And this guy had the nerve to trash Howard Zinn. People in glass mental wards, and all that.)

Today, Islamic militants serve the same purpose, only instead of being compared to George Washington, they receive the time-honored Hitler designation. Round and round it spins. Who knows? If I live long enough, I might get to see a stateside revival of earlier jihadist love. We are a forgiving nation, after all.

Of the two terror films, I enjoyed the Patty Hearst saga more, partly for nostalgic reasons (I was 14 when Hearst was kidnapped), but mostly because the SLA is one of the craziest concepts of "rebellion" I've ever studied. The late conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell believed that the SLA was an undercover police operation, designed to justify violence and repression against domestic dissidents while smashing the rising political awareness and activism within the California prison system. Wouldn't surprise me. On the other hand, perhaps the SLA simply got lucky until the majority of them were incinerated by the LAPD. You can never really tell with stories like this.

Brussell did make a good point about the SLA's bank job on April 15, 1974. Why didn't they shoot the bank's cameras? Why were they so eager to show their faces? Militant vanity? Or was it meant to establish the SLA as a "genuine" threat, rebranding Patty Hearst as a committed revolutionary (which was part of the plan)? Again, I've no clue. Watch the robbery and decide for yourselves. I'll open another bottle of absinthe.